Monday, September 06, 2010

the garden of good and evil

Labor Day.

America's answer to the Euro-centric red May Day.

The unofficial start of political campaigns -- as if they ever stopped.

The last day before the kiddos head back to school -- the unofficial end of summer.

None of that really interested me this year.  I am not a laborite -- red or otherwise.  I long ago gave up any interest in politics.  And the lack of children in my household makes any gleeful thoughts of back-to-school rather churlish -- if not merely mad.

Instead, I celebrated my unpaid day away from work with -- work.  Yard work, to be more precise.

I have a lawn service that does a very good job of taking care of my lawn.  But there are always those pesky borders where weeds invade with impunity.

The border beds have gone untended for the full year I was in Mexico -- and for most of the past few months while I was hobbled inside.  They are not a pretty sight.

Thistles.  Blackberries.  Dandelions.  Violets.  Oxalis.  Some old foes.  Some new ones.

I should have started the war in the spring.  But that is the common complaint of every ancient general.  Most of the weeds have already gone to seed.  And the next generation is just waiting for me to leave.

A rational mind would decide to wait until next spring.  Not me.  It was Labor Day -- and there was labor to be expended.

Armed with my orange-handled trowel and my favorite pair of shears, I hacked my way through more jungle than Henry Stanley encountered in his search for Livingston.  Most of the battles were hand-to-stem -- with row after row of weeds falling to what passed for obsessive tenacity.

I eventually stopped when the recycle barrel was full.  In a less green time, I would have lit a fire and taken on another patch of weedy land.  But we live in a kinder and gentler time -- where our neighbors are spared the white smoke of smoldering weeds.

I plopped the barrel back in place on the concrete pad next to my house.  And I quickly discovered why I had been stung while pulling the ivy on the fence in that area. 

The rumble of the wheeled barrel sent up a small swarm of Western yellow jackets.  They had managed to dig a tunnel in the dirt abutting the pad -- giving them a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cantilevered concrete roof.

But they were not happy I was playing Santa Claus on their roof.  When the flight died down, I stuffed the garden hose down the hole and tried flooding them out.  It seemed another green solution.  But it was just as unsuccessful.

If the nest was somewhere on the property away from activity, I would leave them alone.  But their presence is an inconvenient truth that must come to, what a friend of mine termed, "an Irish, not an American ending."

Tomorrow I will seek chemical assistance -- stand-off wasp spray.  Until then, I will allow a short period of detente

As for me, the Labor Day is over.  Tomorrow I will return to my short-term job.

But, at least, my borders are now in better shape than some national ones.


Leah Flinn said...

My grandfather used to tell me as a child that Labor Day was the day one should work the hardest. He would be proud of your efforts.

Steve Cotton said...

Leah -- He must have known my grandfather, as well. A man of style. Wore a tweed jacket, tie, and fedora to spade the garden.

Calypso said...

But, at least, my borders are now in better shape than some national ones.

Better than having to clean up those other borders.

We would be better off with none ;-)

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

Blackberry bushes in Oregon... I remember those. jaja. Good luck on the Irish ending to your problem. Careful not to get stung.

Chrissy y Keith said...

How fortunate that you get to put your clippings in the Recycle bin. We have to neatly pile ours up on the curb and wait for a month for the City of Scttosdale to pick it up. Then acourse we have a huge wind storm come and blow it all into each others yards. We end up picking stuff up all over again.
I suggest you call a bee/pest service to take care of the wasps. It really is much more effective.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- I am happy to stick to patrolling my small patch of land.

Rosas Clan -- The blackberries seem to appear out of nowhere. And this year, thistles are everywhere. A lot from my neighbor's untended border.

Chrissy -- I may consider a wasp eradication service. (Felipe could do something with that line.) They are nesting in a tight area. Even with the spray, I will need to be right on top of them to do a good job.

Irene said...

Yellow jackets seem to really like ivy for some reason. I was trimming the ivy around the steps yesterday and had to step back for a few minutes when a small gang of wasps decided to investigate. Once they moved on I finished the job. There have been yellow jacket nests in the ivy bank before and although a neighbor had a great idea which involved kerosene I chose to use a professional. No problems since.

Adrienne said...

Steve - you may have the convention of yellow jackets that we eradicated two years ago from the base of the deodar tree in front. I can say without a doubt, leave it to the pros. And if you want to fill another green can, just holler. Our yard service hauls the debris away, leaving our big can for banana peels and egg shells.

1st Mate said...

I, too, labored on Labor Day. I don't belong to a union, there's no mandate that I get a day off on that day. My boss is Yours Truly and this time of year she's a harsh taskmistress. But she gives me most of the year off, so I have no room to complain. I do wish I had a day with Northeastern weather so I could attack my garden, but I'll have to wait at least a month for that. Meanwhile I can only admire your energy and get back to my computer.